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Is College Too Pricey? Wait Till It's Free

TownHall Latest columns - Thu, 04/28/2016 - 22:35
As he panders for the youth vote, Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders promises free tuition at public colleges and universities because, he says, "a college degree is the new high school diploma." Rival Hillary Clinton supports President Barack Obama's plan to make community college tuition-free -- that is, publicly funded. 2016-04-28T00:01:00-04:00 2016-04-29T03:34:52Z Debra J. Saunders

Cruz/Fiorina 2016

TownHall Latest columns - Thu, 04/28/2016 - 22:35
There is a reason presidential candidates do not usually reveal running mate choices months before the party convention, or before they even secure the nomination: The negatives outweigh the positives. 2016-04-28T00:01:00-04:00 2016-04-29T03:34:52Z Mark Davis

God and Politics

TownHall Latest columns - Thu, 04/28/2016 - 22:35
Religion and politics are again at the forefront of this year's presidential race. Yet, in this campaign, self-described evangelicals don't seem as concerned as they once were about a candidate's personal faith. 2016-04-28T00:01:00-04:00 2016-04-29T03:34:52Z Cal Thomas

Can’t We Have Some Standards?

TownHall Latest columns - Thu, 04/28/2016 - 22:35
I used to devour cable news. When I was in college, it was not uncommon for my television to have on Fox News, MSNBC and CNN every moment I was home. Now I can barely bring myself to tolerate five minutes of it. 2016-04-28T00:01:00-04:00 2016-04-29T03:34:52Z Derek Hunter

Bring Back Etiquette

TownHall Latest columns - Thu, 04/28/2016 - 22:35
When I was a child, my mother (traditional Southern woman that she was) enrolled me in an etiquette class for children called "White Gloves and Party Manners." Bratty little Yankee know-it-all that I was (this being 1970 or so), I thought it was the most absurd waste of time I'd ever been forced to endure. 2016-04-28T00:01:00-04:00 2016-04-29T03:34:52Z Laura Hollis

Once Again, Mr. President, You Misspoke

TownHall Latest columns - Thu, 04/28/2016 - 22:35
President Barack Obama participated in a press conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron last Friday, during which he helped me decide whether or not the British should stay in the European Union. The vote is on June 23. That same day, our president penned a column in The Telegraph, a British publication similar to The Wall Street Journal. On both platforms, Obama argued that Britain should remain in the EU. 2016-04-28T00:01:00-04:00 2016-04-29T03:34:52Z Emmett Tyrrell

Army retains decorated Green Beret it planned to kick out over confronting Afghan child rapist

Fox News (Politics) - Thu, 04/28/2016 - 20:45
In a stunning reversal, the U.S. Army decided late Thursday to retain a decorated Green Beret it had planned to kick out after he physically confronted a local Afghan commander accused of raping a boy over the course of many days.

Boehner unleashed: Ex-speaker calls Cruz 'Lucifer,' 'miserable son of a b----'

Fox News (Politics) - Thu, 04/28/2016 - 20:15
John Boehner, the famously blunt ex-House speaker, left no doubt he's not a fan of fellow Republican Ted Cruz, leaping off the sidelines of the presidential race Wednesday night to unleash a stunning verbal lashing of the Texas senator, reportedly calling him “Lucifer in the flesh” and a “miserable son of a bitch.”

Krauthammer: Cruz 'appeal has never been personal'

Fox News (Politics) - Thu, 04/28/2016 - 19:56
Charles Krauthammer told viewers Thursday on “Special Report with Bret Baier” that when it comes to presidential candidate Ted Cruz and voters, “his appeal has never been personal. It’s always been ideological.”

White House finally agrees that a reinforced, heightened border fence increases security!*

Michelle Malkin - Thu, 04/28/2016 - 19:40

**Written by Doug Powers

*HEADLINE DISCLAIMER: Only when that fence surrounds the White House:

The U.S. Secret Service plans to raise the height of the White House security fence by 5 feet and add a new concrete foundation to reduce the risk of fence-jumpers, according to a copy of an agency report obtained by the News4 I-Team.

The agency, along with the National Park Service, said it intends to begin building a “taller, stronger” fence to protect the White House grounds by 2018.
“The current fence simply is not adequate for a modern era. We’ve said that before. It is becoming more and more acutely clear that that is in fact the case,” Secret Service official Tom Dougherty said in the briefing to federal officials.

Obama should also be made aware that the upgraded WH fence will not keep out climate change, which is, after all, our biggest security threat.

**Written by Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

Congress votes to designate bison as national mammal

Fox News (Politics) - Thu, 04/28/2016 - 18:46
The bison could soon become the national mammal of the United States.

Cruz claims he doesn't know Boehner – but was his lawyer

Fox News (Politics) - Thu, 04/28/2016 - 15:56
Sen. Ted Cruz’s response Thursday to ex-House Speaker John Boehner’s litany of insults toward him was simple: “I don’t know the man.”

EXCLUSIVE: Assad siege of Aleppo could be 'imminent,' experts warn

Fox News (Politics) - Thu, 04/28/2016 - 15:25
A government encirclement of the Syrian rebel stronghold of Aleppo could be “imminent,” according to military and humanitarian observers, some of whom point to United Nations-sponsored peace talks as having given the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad maneuvering room.

Poll: Christie popularity in NJ hits new low

Fox News (Politics) - Thu, 04/28/2016 - 14:37
Chris Christie's popularity in his home state has hit a new low, according to a poll released Thursday -- with the New Jersey governor even viewed more unfavorably than the state's indicted U.S. senator.

Significant premium hikes expected under ObamaCare

Fox News (Politics) - Thu, 04/28/2016 - 13:59
Insurers will seek significant premium hikes under President Barack Obama's health care law this summer - stiff medicine for consumers and voters ahead of the national political conventions.

About 16 military disciplines in Afghanistan hospital attack

Fox News (Politics) - Thu, 04/28/2016 - 12:46
About 16 U.S. military personnel, including one general officer, have been disciplined for mistakes that led to the bombing of a civilian hospital in Afghanistan last year that killed 42 people, a senior U.S. official said Thursday.

Obama set to push for ‘smart gun’ tech despite concerns

Fox News (Politics) - Thu, 04/28/2016 - 12:36
The Obama administration is locked and loaded for a fresh push on gun control initiatives – reportedly moving to advocate for so-called "smart gun" technology as early as Friday, despite concerns from the gun lobby.

ICE under fire for releasing thousands of illegal immigrants with rap sheets

Fox News (Politics) - Thu, 04/28/2016 - 12:01
The Obama administration took fire at a House hearing Thursday for releasing back into society thousands of illegal immigrants who had committed crimes on U.S. soil – including those behind more than 200 murders.

House Speaker invites India Prime Minister to address Congress

Fox News (Politics) - Thu, 04/28/2016 - 11:22
House Speaker Paul Ryan says he has invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India to address a joint meeting of Congress on June 8.

The ACLU's Cynical Attack on Criminal Justice Reform

Cato Recent Op Eds - Thu, 04/28/2016 - 11:20

Nat Hentoff and Nick Hentoff

Under the leadership of Anthony Romero, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is a diminished shadow of its former self. The ACLU is now led by cafeteria civil libertarians who choose the liberties they deem worthy of protection based on a narrow ideological agenda.

The latest incarnation of this betrayal of the Bill of Rights is the ACLU’s refusal to support criminal justice reform legislation that strengthens the mens rea requirement for most federal criminal statutes. Translated from the Latin as “guilty mind,” mens rea is a legal phrase that describes the mental state of mind formed prior to the commission of a crime. Traditionally, the law requires the government to prove that a defendant was aware of and intended to break the law before he can be punished for doing so.

Writing in The New York Times, Yale Law professor Gideon Yaffe warned that liberal opposition to the mens rea provision threatens the passage of the criminal justice reform legislation currently pending in Congress:

“The provision is part of a sweeping criminal justice bill that includes important reforms sought by liberals, including reduced sentences for minor crimes. Democrats, however, oppose the mens rea provision on the ground that it would weaken efforts to prosecute corporate executives whose companies have caused harm. Their opposition is a major stumbling block to passage of the larger bill. But suspicions about Republican motivations should not turn liberals against these changes, because strengthening mens rea requirements will also help poor and minority people.”

The ACLU’s Romero responded to Yaffe with a letter to the editor in which he argued that the passage of mens rea reform “will do little to help the vast majority of the 2.2 million people behind bars in America and those soon to be incarcerated.”

George Mason University Law professor David E. Bernstein criticized Romero’s majoritarian approach to civil liberties advocacy, writing that “the executive director of the ACLU doesn’t care about the rights of a certain class of accused criminals.” Professor Bernstein’s claim of ACLU selectivity has merit when you consider that the organization has, in some cases, called for strengthening the mens rea requirement in proposed federal legislation.

In 2007 the ACLU vigorously opposed changes to the Keeping the Internet Devoid of Sexual Predators (“KIDS”) Act on the grounds that “the amendment’s proposed mens rea is overly broad and vague and could result in innocent people being prosecuted for this offense.”

Progressive groups have badly mischaracterized the mens rea reform movement as a Republican-inspired effort to shield corporate special interests from much deserved prosecutions. A recent op-ed by Thomas B. Edsall in The New York Times parroted the progressive line on mens rea reforms, which he compared to partisan “pro-corporate stealth provisions attached to unrelated sentencing reform legislation.”

Yet one of the leading voices in the mens rea reform movement is Harvey Silverglate, a noted criminal defense and civil liberties lawyer who has a five-decade record of courageously defending progressive causes. Silverglate served for 30 years as a board member of the ACLU of Massachusetts and remains a member of the organization.

The need for mens rea reform was first brought to light in Silverglate’s 2007 book Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent. According to Silverglate, the average U.S. citizen innocently commits an average of three felonies a day without realizing they have broken the law. His book describes how overzealous prosecutors use vague laws with lax mens rea requirements to prosecute innocent people from all walks of life under a wide variety of federal criminal statutes.

“There has arisen a cynical effort by some to defeat the adoption of mens rea legislation by claiming … that it will aid corporate and ‘white collar’ defendants, ignoring that in fact it would apply across-the-board to all defendants,” Silverglate wrote in an email responding to our request for his comments.

“This attempted injection of a form of class warfare into the struggle to achieve long-overdue fundamental criminal justice reform is a betrayal of the civil liberties of all Americans,” Silverglate warned. “We need both sentencing reform for those convicted, and mens rea reform in order to prevent the innocent from being convicted in the first place.”

Silverglate concluded his comments with a stern rebuke: “Romero and the ACLU should know better. Liberty is indivisible. Equal justice is not achieved by cynically pitting one group of citizens against another. That is how we ended up with by far the largest prison population in the world.”

In 2009 Silverglate called for coordinated action to solve the problems described in his book. “(R)ecognition that this movement has no ideological allegiances other than the preservation of liberty is a pivotal first step,” he wrote in a guest essay for the Volokh Conspiracy blog.

Conservative groups answered Silverglate’s bipartisan call to action while the ACLU and other progressive groups turned tail and ran in the opposite direction. Their opposition to the mens rea legislation now threatens to kill the last best hope for meaningful criminal justice reform for years to come.

Authors’ disclosure: Nat Hentoff is a former board member of both the national ACLU and the New York Civil Liberties Union. Nick Hentoff, a former board member of the Arizona chapter of the ACLU, represented the Arizona ACLU in the First Amendment court case Children of the Rosary v. City of Phoenix (9th Cir. 1998).

Nat Hentoff is a nationally renowned authority on the First Amendment and the Bill of Rights. He is a member of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and the Cato Institute, where he is a senior fellow. Nick Hentoff is a criminal defense and civil liberties attorney in New York City.


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